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Does decaffeinated coffee have caffeine in it?

This is one of the most asked coffee questions on the web:

Does decaffeinated coffee have caffeine in it?

Well, a decaffeinated cup of coffee of the same size has caffeine levels of anywhere between of 2mg and 15mg of caffeine depending on the decaffeination process, brewing method, coffee variety and coffee roasting level.

For comparison, regular caffeinated coffee contains between 120mg and 180mg of caffeine.

So, in essence, the caffeine in a cup of decaffeinated coffee is negligible.

However, the variable that affects the caffeine level the most is what decaffeination process is used to decaffeinated the coffee beans.

Let’s analyse the caffeine levels of the three leading decaffeination process as follows:

1) The Methylene Chloride Decaf Coffee Process

2) The CO2 "Sparkling Water" Decaf Coffee Process

3) The Swiss Water Decaf Coffee Process

In order of lowest caffeine to highest caffeine levels, the caffeine levels in these decaffeination processes are as follows:

The Swiss Water Decaf Process is certified 99.9% caffeine free and uses only water (no chemicals) to decaffeinate the beans.

The CO2 Decaf Process caffeine content is not clear - we cannot find information on how much caffeine is in CO2 Process decaffeinated coffee.  Often called the "sparkling water" process, it uses CO2 to remove caffeine from green coffee beans instead of a chemical solvent. But, we haven’t been able to ascertain what caffeine level the CO2 process is typically.

The Methylene Chloride Decaf Process is decaffeinated to a 96-97% caffeine free level and is a process whereby a chemical solvent called Methylene Chloride is used to remove the caffeine from coffee beans, so can contain caffeine levels of 2-3%.

Methylene Chloride is the most popular method of decaffeination in the world. If there is no mention of the decaffeination process on a packet of coffee or instant coffee, then it’s safe to assume that Methylene Chloride was used to decaffeinate the beans.

IMPORTANT: This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. Nothing in the content or products should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs.


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